Wednesday, 2 May 2012

How to crack open a coconut

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Olympic Games. This year it will be in London village, that little hamlet in the south of England. One sport I feel deserves inclusion in this mammoth odd-game-fest is coconut cracking. You mean don’t already play this sport? We do. It’s easy to get into: let me tell you how.

When opening an actual, real live coconut, there are only three things you need: hands, a hammer, and an audience. And when I say ‘audience’, I mean someone standing by with a Dust Buster and a towel.

First, it’s time to fulfil a life-long dream: stabbing something in the eye. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe and will not incur any unfortunate ethical or, more importantly, police entanglements. Take a Philips screwdriver and find the ‘eyes’ on the underside of the coconut - the dark coloured circles, at the more pointed end. Hold the point of the screwdriver to one of these and tap it in. No, don’t go at it like Jack Nicholson with a fire axe. Just tap it a few times to make sure it’s safely anchored, then a bit harder to get through the shell. Make another hole in the other ‘eye’ - people will tell you this is to allow air to get in, rather like leaving the driver’s window open a crack on a VW Beetle so you can actually shut the door. They’re not wrong.

Upend the coconut to drain - I recommend sitting it in a colander or large sieve so it can drip into a large bowl underneath. This could take ten minutes so give it its well-deserved hammock time and go make a cup of tea.

Once it’s drained of milk, you need to hold the coconut in one hand - do not rest it on the countertop or you might shake your fixings loose - and aim for the rounder end, far from the two holes you just made. Use the hammer to assert Newton’s third law of motion with a few smart smacks. If the coconut’s a little old, parts of the outer shell might well fly off, so choose between ducking and making a hasty optician’s appointment. If all goes to plan, the palm seed will crack like the San Andreas fault. All you need do is pull it open with your hands; victory. However, if, like the one I tackled this afternoon, it decides to go to pieces like a stressed-out Humpty Dumpty, you’ll just have to keep strategically hammering until you’re left with enough of a straight line that you can lever open.

And there we have it: coconut opening and stress alleviation, all in one operation. This is where your audience steps in and clears up the hairy fall-out and cracked carnage, with a view to getting some of the fresh coconut as a reward. Which kind of makes the sound of hammering less of a football ref’s full-time whistle and more of a Pavlov’s bell.


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